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Car Service City Driving Growth And Bucking The Trends

Car Service City has proven itself to be a robust and resilient operation, having not only survived but thrived in a tough economic climate. With the economy once again on shaky ground, Entrepreneur spoke to company founder Grant Brady to find out exactly what makes the brand such a solid investment.

GG van Rooyen

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Car Service City was founded in 2004. As you undoubtedly know, the global economic crisis hit in 2008, a mere four years after the business was launched. For a young company this is a worst-case scenario.

Establishing and growing a business is hard even at the best of times. When the economy contracts, it can become nearly impossible. Indeed, many companies failed during this time.

But Car Service City didn’t fail. In fact it flourished. Over the last decade or so, the brand has grown massively, now boasting more than 60 franchises nationwide. How did the company manage to buck the trend? Entrepreneur spoke to Car Service City founder Grant Brady to find out.

Car Service City has been around for more than ten years now, and it was still relatively young when the 2008 recession hit. What makes the business so robust and resilient?

We believe our business is recession-proof for two reasons. First, road transport is the main method of transport for South Africans. Because we use our cars so much, we need to keep them in top condition. The maintenance of vehicles is therefore key to keeping them on the road and running smoothly.

This is particularly important when you consider the cost of fuel. Well maintained vehicles will always have a better fuel consumption than their poorly maintained counterparts. Our offering therefore services a large need in the consumer market. We have affordable service guaranteed, the best service at the best price is what we do.

Related: Car Service City’s Success After Switching To Franchising

According to South African statistics, the live vehicle population for cars and station wagons is nearly seven million, which means seven million drivers need affordable vehicle maintenance and service offerings. Car Service City’s mandate to say what we do, and do what we say, along with top-class mechanics and exceptional and affordable service, makes us a strong brand in a world where ‘one-man-band’ mechanics have earned a poor reputation.

Even early on, we managed to create a recognised brand that consumers knew and trusted. We spent a lot of time crafting a marketing strategy that would make Car Service City a recognisable entity. A good example is our ubiquitous ‘flyer guys’, who hand out flyers at traffic lights.

Just about everyone knows what Car Service City’s flyer guys look like. This is one way in which we created a strong brand. We’re much larger and more established now, but we still believe that marketing is crucial. Building a brand is an ongoing process.

Another reason Car Service City is a robust and resilient brand is the thorough and careful selection process that all potential franchisees go through. We don’t necessarily demand loads of business or automotive knowledge, because our head office ensures that each branch is equipped with the trained operators necessary to carry out what our brand says we will deliver, which is affordable service guaranteed.

Company culture is also incredibly important for us. We spend a lot of time making sure that anyone who enters the organisation shares our passion and commitment. It’s all about culture fit. We’re looking for people who will embrace our systems and processes and really live the brand.

A third factor is head office support to franchisees. Any franchise business is only as good as its franchisees. You can’t succeed if your franchisees don’t succeed, which is why we offer training to franchisees and their staff on an ongoing basis. We also make sure that they keep up with the latest trends and stay at the forefront of technological advancements. You can’t allow yourself to become complacent. You always need to move forward, otherwise you’ll get left behind.

Growth that isn’t carefully managed can be impressive in the short-term, but can end in disaster when it comes to the long-term. What is Car Service City’s approach to sustainable growth?

car service city

We have shown very good growth over the last ten or 11 years, but we’ve always been careful not to make growth our only goal. It’s easy to just bring a bunch of new franchisees on board and grow your network quickly, but that kind of growth isn’t sustainable. As mentioned, we make sure that we choose franchisees who will fit in well with the organisation and have a good chance of making a success of things. This takes time, but it’s worth it.

At head office, we never let the growth of the network outstrip the other aspects of the business. It’s important that we are able to supply the necessary help and support to our franchisees, and this means having the right structures, systems and processes in place. So we try to let our ability to provide full support to the entirety of our network dictate the speed of our expansion.

We could grow quicker if we were more aggressive, but we are interested in managed growth that is sustainable.

The group has managed to grow its footprint year-on-year since inception, and we are on track with our growth strategy. We currently have 61 outlets nationwide, and this will hopefully increase in the coming year.

Related: Should You Purchase An Existing Franchise?

Car Service City seems to have a business model that would be more resilient than most. After all, people need to have their cars serviced, even during tough economic times. Is this true? How do you view Car Service City’s position, given the current economic climate?

This is certainly true. We’re in a great position, in that our business model works, regardless of whether the economy is up or down. When times are tough, people hang onto their cars for longer. They’re more careful with their big investments, which means they service and maintain their vehicles better.

When times are good, they sell their cars, which then enter the second-hand market and still need servicing. So we offer something that is always in demand, which puts us in a great position.

I also believe that people tend to gravitate towards brands that they know and trust, especially when times are tough, and Car Service City is thankfully a brand that resonates with consumers. Through our consistent offering and affordable service, marketing and excellent customer service we have created a strong brand presence throughout South Africa. Car Service City is a name that people know and trust.

From head office we ensure everyone has the necessary skills to provide affordable service to customers. It’s up to us to ensure that franchisees and their employees are able to deliver on our brand promise — affordable service guaranteed.

As a franchisor, how do you view your role when it comes to assisting in the success of franchisees? How do you ensure the success of franchisees, even when times are tough?

car-service-city-office

As stated earlier, we don’t believe in just offering initial training, and then leaving franchisees to fend for themselves. We offer continuous training, and also help with the day-to-day running of a franchise by providing proven systems and processes that simplify things.

That said, we realise that franchisees are unique. Needs are different. So we try to help in any way we can. We assess each franchised branch individually. 

How do you see the business evolving over the next five or ten years? What will the industry look like? What will Car Service City look like?

The automotive industry is always evolving, and we’re determined to keep up with this change. Car Service City will adapt its systems and processes as required by the industry. Because of the culture of our business, we are able to stay ahead of the curve and stay up-to-date with industry and technology changes.

As for Car Service City itself, we will continue our growth and expansion. However, we’re determined to make sure that this is managed growth.

Related: Owning A Franchise – Good Idea Or Bad Idea?

What, in your opinion, makes a Car Service City franchise a solid investment?

grant-brady-car-service-city

We’re fortunate in that we operate within something of a recession-proof industry, but it’s about more than that. In my opinion, one of the biggest reasons that Car Service City is such a solid investment is the level of support offered by head office. The help and support we offer stretches across marketing, IT, human resources, legal, branding, etc.

We ensure that franchisees are able to keep their promises to their customers. Head office ensures that staff are skilled and equipped to handle their roles at Car Service City branches across the country, from managers to secretaries and mechanics.

Solid investments require solid foundations. We focus on getting the basics right. South Africa’s vehicle-dependent environment means that we offer a much-needed product, but the reason we are chosen above our competitors is that consumers feel that we are trustworthy, and that their cars will be serviced and maintained without being taken advantage of or ripped off.

Another reason Car Service City is successful is its strong brand. Having a recognisable name that consumers know is very valuable and providing a service that there is a high demand for in South Africa means that we are a name associated with affordability and trustworthiness. It just makes it so much easier to get up and running. You don’t need to ‘prove’ yourself to the same extent that an independent operation does. You have the strength of the name behind you.

Finally, Car Service City provides a proven business model that offers potential franchisees a truly excellent chance at success. Over the last decade, we’ve greatly refined our systems and processes. The recipe works; new franchisees just need to follow it.

What does a franchise cost?

Training and software R4 000 excl. VAT
Marketing fee 2,5% of TO p/m
Management fee 5% of TO p/m
Establishment cost R950 000 to

R1,3 million

Working capital R150 000
Average time to break-even Three months
Total footprint 61
For more information,

email gbrady@ccholdings.co.za, visit

www.carservicecity.net, or call +27 (0)11 883 3687.

GG van Rooyen is the deputy editor for Entrepreneur Magazine South Africa. Follow him on Twitter.

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Spur’s Got A Taste For Success

With eight brands across five countries, the Spur Corp’s secret sauce to success has all the best ingredients — most importantly, its franchisees. Sacha du Plessis, Group Marketing Executive at Spur Corporation, explains the company’s 51-year journey in creating some of the most popular places to eat the world over.

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What is the biggest contributor to Spur’s success?

Since the beginning, we’ve made an unwavering commitment to run restaurants that are operated by entrepreneurially-minded owners who put the customer first. Customer satisfaction is one of Spur Corporation’s most important value drivers, we partner with people who ensure we retain and grow a loyal customer base. We seek to work with franchisees who take pride in the training of their staff and prepare food with passion.

This mindset has been alive for over 50 years in our staff and franchisees.

Please share some of the challenges Spur encounters as a franchisor?

We have a sizable franchise network and a big priority is to ensure that we meet customers’ expectations in every single franchise they visit. Another challenge is finding the best franchisees to partner with, people who are aligned with our company values and customer orientation.

In terms of growth, it is sometimes challenging to find the correct locations per brand and to ensure the rental is at a level where it’s sustainable for the franchisee. The management of our marketing communication to ensure we remain relevant and distinctive in an ever changing landscape can also be a challenge.

Related: A Three-Pronged Approach To Franchise Success

Name a few of the qualities you look for when selecting franchisees?

Our business was built on a highly focused customer orientation and centred on a love for food. Our franchisees need to be focused on the customer: Pleasing the customer, meeting the customers’ needs and being willing to spend large amounts of time in growing a business that essentially is the hospitality industry and is really about people. Our franchisees are people who have an appreciation for, and love, food as well as serving their local community over and above their product.

Why is Spur a solid investment for entrepreneurs seeking to pursue franchising?

We’ve invested greatly in growing our brand over a long period of time. Spur was founded by our Executive Chairman Allen Ambor in the spirit of entrepreneurship. Over the past 51 years, we’ve built a track-record of comprehensive operational, finance, marketing, IT, training, procurement, distribution and development support. Our marketing approach grows sustainable brands in a considered and well researched manner.

Our customer scope is broad, so while our main brands are focused on the wider South African market, we also have niche brands. This track record reassures the franchisee and broader market about Spur Corporation’s credibility.

What kind of support can a franchisee expect when joining Spur?

Franchisees can tap into expertise that’s been built up over five decades. We provide franchisees with the most effective tools to help manage and sustain their businesses successfully. Our operational support is wide-reaching and includes access to procurement, development, logistical as well as IT support. Skills development is one of the most important ways in which Spur Corporation supports its franchisees to run successful businesses.

Marketing support enables franchisees to actively identify opportunities and get assistance in developing and implementing bespoke marketing plans for each restaurant. Most importantly, when a franchisee joins Spur Group he or she gets access to cutting-edge management know-how from an experienced team of people who are passionate about our business.

Related: Nedbank’s Full Service Offering for Franchise Owners 

Why is it important for successful franchises such as yours to have a strong banking partner and how does it benefit the franchisee?

Buying into a brand is a substantial investment for a franchisee, so they need a banking partner that will help with financial planning and running the business. Nedbank has built relationships with franchisees while helping to open and maintain their businesses.

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Muscle And Grill Is Your Daily Chef. We Provide Fresh, Nutritional Food At Affordable Prices

It isn’t always easy to stay in tune with both body and mind. We do all the prepping for you so that you can keep up your pursuit of greatness.

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Muscle and Grill is a healthy fast food establishment based in South Africa. In the face of modern South Africa, lives spent on the go require a fuel to match their aspirations while maintaining a delicious, fast and fresh service.

As our lives swirl into life’s vast depths of opportunity, our bodies are often the product of poor health habits, while trying to keep on the move to achieve our goals. Muscle and Grill challenges this. We want to be able to support the South Africa of tomorrow by offering the food your body needs to keep reaching new heights – to keep pushing the boundaries of accomplishment with health food convenience.

At Muscle and Grill we’ve got you covered. We provide nutritional fast food that is fresh and affordable. We have your health at heart. You could start your day off with some free-range scrambled eggs or fresh oats – for lunch a mixed bowl of rice, protein and fresh vegetables – or to round off your day, replenish your mind and body with a hearty health-infused burger and all its wholesome goodness. We have not forgotten that home constitutes a hungry family who have all been active, so grab a lean beef pasta salad with some greens on the side to go.

Related: SA Fast Food Franchising On The Rise

It isn’t always easy to stay in tune with both body and mind. We do all the prepping for you so that you can keep up your pursuit of greatness.

About us

It was once said that great ideas are born from ones’ frustrations. That is exactly how Muscle and Grill came about. Having no real on-the-go option to stay healthy, or having the time to prepare to be healthy, became a huge frustration for us. We struggled to find enough hours in the day to keep up with a busy lifestyle and still eat healthy while on the move. Our work came first and our lifestyles suffered.

The vision for Muscle and Grill is to make it possible to stay healthy on the go. We want healthy food to be easily accessible for all walks of life.

Our mission is to provide quality, healthy fast-food. The food we provide is delicious and will keep you coming back for more.

Concept

muscle-and-grill

Muscle and Grill works on an almost self-service basis. The point of sale system is customer operated where you can select what meal you would like to have. Once payment has been processed electronically the kitchen staff will receive the order and prepare it to spec. Muscle and Grill will be a completely cashless business, making it super-efficient for consumers and business owners.

Related: 3 Crucial Considerations For New Multi-unit Franchisees

The concept of Muscle and Grill is partnered with Puré Frooty. Puré Frooty is a self-service smoothie bar which prepares smoothies for you at the touch of a button. You can have a store with or without a machine – the choice is yours. Both concepts look to promote the idea of healthy living on the go.

We’ve looked to compliment our values by looking after that which grounds us. Our packaging and utensils are all eco-friendly, as we believe ‘going-green’ is not just a choice of eating but of the environment too.

So, when you are ready to join the next revolution in the fast food industry contact Muscle and Grill at info@muscleandgrill.co.za or visit the website at www.muscleandgrill.co.za to inquire on our franchise options today. Achieve your goals, stay on the move and look after yourself through Muscle and Grill.

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Nando’s Is Firing Up The East

Carlos Duarte has been part of the Nando’s brand since inception. When his brother Fernando co-founded the flamed grilled chicken brand in 1987, Carlos soon participated in its success and today owns four highly successful franchises in Johannesburg — three in the east and one in the south. Here’s how it all began.

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  • Player: Carlos Duarte
  • Franchise: Nando’s
  • Position: Franchisee
  • Visit: www.nandos.co.za

What were you doing before becoming a franchisee?

I was in the audio visual technology field, as an employee. Then I joined Nando’s as an assistant manager in the Savoy and Rosettenville corporate stores. Franchising was my first experience of entrepreneurship.

Why did you decide to become a franchisee?

When my brother, Fernando Duarte, launched Nando’s in 1987, I noticed its quick growth and wanted in on the action. Being assistant store manager prepared me for when the opportunity to run my own store came along soon after.

What prompted you to partner with Nando’s?

I joined Nando’s in 1991 as a joint venture partner. At the time, Nando’s hadn’t yet franchised its operations, and the JV partnership meant the brand owned 51% of the business, while I owned 49%. My first franchise store was in Edenglen in 2001.

Related: (Watch) Why Nando’s Is Clucking Its Way To The Top

Describe some of the challenges of running not one, but four franchise locations

At the Edenglen store, we initially battled with sales and getting feet into the store. To be honest, I think the area was overtraded at the time, so it wasn’t the best location. Since acquiring the store in Lambton, Germiston, another in Greenstone and a third in Comaro, I’ve learnt to be cleverer in how I do things — and how I handle some of the same challenges — and learn every day from the brand itself.

Name some of the benefits you’ve experienced as a Nando’s franchisee

Nando’s is 31 years old this year. We’re in 30-odd countries worldwide with thousands of stores across the globe. As franchisees, we leverage off the dynamism of an operational business that’s known for its marketing — customers talk about our ads and they love our food.

What kind of support do you receive from Nando’s as a multi-unit franchisee?

Besides the popular marketing campaigns that attract customers, Nando’s has an extensive training manual along with a skills development training consultant who comes to the store for two days to help staff understand and implement it. The training is really effective — it has to be as this industry involves a very high turnover of staff and new skills need to be taught often.

Why is it important for a franchisee to have a good banking partner?

As a franchisee, your bank should understand your business — from operating costs, to overdraft needs and revamping expenses — so it has cash available for loans that can be approved quickly, with minimal hassle. On the technical side, a reliable mPOS device is imperative, especially for us, because 30% of our sales volumes are from home and office deliveries. It’s a fundamental method of payment every bank should provide its customers of a similar nature.


What advice do you have for budding franchisees on seeking out a good franchise brand and banking partner for their business?

  • Do your research to ensure you’re partnering with a brand that is established, well-known and expect to pay a fair price for that franchise.
  • Be aware of how the franchise brand is perceived in the market and what location opportunities are available to you as a franchisee.
  • Choose a banking facility that always has the funds available to grow your business.
  • Ensure the bank understands the brand’s business model and where you’re falling short.

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